Quartet, based on a novel by Jean Rhys
A different version of this note and thoughts on other books are available at:
- https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLEVa4_CsRStSBBDo4uJWT8BSWtTTn0N1E and http://realini.blogspot.ro/
Quartet is a good film.
Alas, it was almost completely ignored.
On the IMDB site, only five critics expressed an opinion on it.
This should present a 20% increase in number of notes on the film.
James Ivory is a genius and the creator behind chef d’oeuvres that not only stand the measure of time, but rank with the best movies ever made:
- The Remains of the Day, A Room with a View, Howards End…
On the same aforementioned masterpieces, the director has worked with the screenwriter Ruth Prawer Jhabvala.
She won the Academy Award for Bes Writing, Screenplay Based on Material Previously Produced or Published for both Howards end A Room With a View.
And to complete the list of reasons to watch this film before knowing anything else, the cast has three superb actors in the forefront:
- Alan Bates, Maggie Smith and the stupendous Isabelle Adjani
The superb Isabelle Adjani is playing Marya “Mado” Zelli, am innocent- to begin with- defenseless French woman.
She is married to Stephan, who is an art dealer that sells works bought from the French to foreigners interested in buying.
He has acquired a sword that had belonged to Napoleon, one of quite a few as Mado points out, but the deal is not successful.
Stephan is arrested and this is an opportunity for H.J. Heidler to talk to his wife Lois about helping the young Mado.
H. J. is portrayed by Alan Bates and Lois by Maggie Smith, who is still acting with great talent now that she over eighty years old- Downton Abbey and The Lady in the Van being just two of her recent, acclaimed films.
Lois is not very favorable to the idea of having Mado live with them, observing that they do not really know the woman, except for the fact that she is married to a man that had been sentenced to jail, but H.J. says:
“H.J. Heidler: [to Lois] I'm not interested in being kind to anyone. I'm interested in them. In character. In forms of life. You should've married a stockbroker and stayed with him in South Kensington.”
Mado is forced to accept the invitation that is finally made, especially since her own husband encourages her to do so.
She has no means to live on, even she tries to get a job that ends up in a part funny, part embarrassing scene.
Mado is given the name of a man that takes photographs and would be interested in giving her a chance.
And we get to see this scene, wherein two naked women and a man pose for what appears to be pornographic pictures.
There is a director that made me think of Boogie Nights, who instructs the cast, one of the girls has a whip.
The other is leaning over the man who is not engaged in the scene because he has not been paid and shouts to the director over that.
The latter is not too concerned with the accusations and invites the woman to “take it into her mouth” so that he could record the felatio…
This is when Mado comes into the premises and looks around to get her coat off and stumbles upon the naked group and the fight over missing pay…
H. J. appears to be the male who takes advantage of the woman with no means and he sleeps with her.
Nevertheless, I am not sure if she is not willing, at least in a small degree, or it is all forced upon her by terrible circumstances.
The love triangle has very tense moments, like the one where Mado hears the married couple talking and she enters the room and has a conflict with them.
Stephan is out of jail, but things do not improve seeing as he refers to his wife in careless manner and would not take her with him:
“Marya 'Mado' Zelli: You've got to take me with you. Away from them. Please help me.
Stephan Zelli: You must think I'm Jesus Christ.
Guy: Why is love like Rasputin? Because you can poison it. And you can stab it! And you can knock it down in the mud. But it will always get up. Don't you think that's good? Don't you think that's funny? Love will not die. It simply will not die. Just like Rasputin.”